In the process of developing the OUSD Strategic Plan, “Pathway to Excellence 2015-2020”, we thought long and hard about which priorities to highlight. After hearing from thousands of Oakland residents about how we can build a district where Every Student Thrives, we determined that our top priority must be developing Effective Talent.
We arrived at this decision because high-quality staff who are invested in student success and supported in the process of teaching and learning are essential to the creation of a world-class school district. So, it’s critical that we do a better job of attracting, retaining, and developing top talent. There are many components to this effort, but improved compensation is a critical part of drawing the best talent to Oakland and keeping it here.
We are resolved to make the Oakland Unified School District the premiere employer among Bay Area education agencies. We have to make it up a lot of ground to get there, and it won’t happen overnight, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve taken serious strides in that direction.
Our current contract offer to the Oakland Education Association (OEA) includes a 10% pay increase for teachers over the next three years, with the potential for an additional 3% raise. This is built on top of already scheduled increases achieved annually through years of service and continuing education. Some teachers will see pay increase by 15% or more.
The salary increase will complement OUSD’s benefits, which at $13,750 per employee, are among the most generous in the area. This figure is not included is not included in the salary numbers, but has a significant impact on total compensation. The salary increase alone is more than quadruple the combined total of the raises received by OEA members since 2008.
We have made cuts elsewhere to facilitate this investment in our teachers. One of my first directives was to cut central office costs to invest in teachers and direct support to school sites. The money freed by these cuts has been used to fund, in part, the District’s current contract offer. Central Departments have been instructed to make additional cuts of between 5% and 20% for the 2015-16 school year. This will free even more money to put toward our teachers and into our classrooms.
We are focused on directing dollars to where they will most directly benefit children. We need to use our limited resources to invest in new and improved facilities, educational technology, and additional services that benefit our kids such as counselors, school nurses, and special instructional aides. We also need to make sure more funding is going to the schools, classrooms, and kids who need it–and the teachers who serve them.
Teachers play an invaluable role in creating an exceptional public school system and we will increase salaries until Oakland teachers—and classified staff—are among the best compensated in the area. The current offer is just the beginning. OUSD is committed to becoming an employer of choice, that recruits, trains, supports, and retains the kind of talent needed to ensure that Every Student Thrives!